I’m so excited today to be spending some time with lead character Lily Farnsworth. She’s the heroine from Love In Bloom by Arlene James, Book 1 of The Heart of Main Street continuity series from Love Inspired. She sounds like an intriguing character, but I think I’ve pegged her archetype. See if you can!
Marji: I’m so glad you’re willing to visit with us. I don’t want to intrude too much, but does your family play any role at all in your life?
Lily: Oh, absolutely. If they hadn’t insisted, I wouldn’t have gone to law school or attempted to practice law, and if my sister hadn’t married the fellow that I had my eye on, I wouldn’t have ditched the whole law thing to open a flower shop in Bygones, Kansas. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but they’re all lawyers, and I’m just…not.
Marji: Ah. Family can be a challenge. So you opened a flower shop. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? What I mean is, if time and money weren’t limitations, what would you spend most of your days doing?
Lily: Exactly what I’m doing now. Praise God! I’m so thankful that I discovered flower arranging and the floral business while I was working my way through law school. I shudder to think where I’d be now if I hadn’t.
Marji: A good thing. I’m happy for you. What limitation do you have?
Lily: Well, I’m terribly shy. I know it, and I work to overcome it. I really do. But my first instinct is always to step back, duck my head and hope someone new will simply go away. It’s not a great attribute for an attorney. Or a florist, for that matter, but the flowers don’t mind.
Marji: Great way to look at things. Sounds like you love your job. What’s the best thing about the flower business?
Lily: The creativity, the beauty. I just love finding something mundane—like an old handbag, for instance—and turning it into the perfect container for a stunning flower arrangement. The possibilities are just limitless when you think about it.
Marji: Clever idea. Is there anything you hate about the job?
Lily: Selling. If I could, I’d just give away my arrangements and things, but a girl has to eat and pay the rent, doesn’t she? That means selling my creations, and that means overcoming my shyness to meet and greet the public. That’s one reason I wanted to leave Boston. I thought it might be easier in a small town.
Marji: Undoubtedly. So what worries you the most right now?
Lily: That my shop, Love in Bloom, will fail. That means I’ll have to pay back the grant that I won, and that I’ll let down the committee that chose me and the whole town of Bygones, Kansas.
Marji: Well that’s stressful. When you start feeling the tension, what do you do? Where do you go when you need to relax?
Lily: In Boston, I had friends, people I’d worked with a long time. We’d go out to our favorite restaurants, but here in Bygones, the closest thing to a restaurant is the grill at this sort of convenience store called The Everything. Most of the tables are outside, but you can see the park from there. That’s where the community garden is, and that’s where I usually go. There’s a duck pond and a gazebo, very pretty.
Marji: And what element of your life, besides that great fear you have about your shop failing, stresses you out the most?
Lily: You try being a florist, by choice, in a family of judges, prosecutors, law professors and successful attorneys. To say that they don’t “get” me is putting it mildly.
Marji: Oh, of course. And like you already said, they’re deeply involved with you. Yikes! Do you regret your decision? Or maybe I should ask, what is your greatest regret?
Lily: I don’t know how many times I wish I had simply spoken up, said something, done something. I don’t want to grow old alone, frankly, but men simply do not notice me because I tend to fade into the background. I notice them, though, and if I could just once let a guy know that I’m interested, then maybe… There’s a man right now, a widower with a charming little girl who really likes me, but I just don’t know what to say or do.
Marji: Wow, I thought you were speaking about your family. I had no idea you secretly yearned for romance. (But then doesn’t everyone? Ha!) What traits should your hero have?
Lily: Oh, he ought to be patient and kind and share his feelings easily. Slow to anger, active in church, thoughtful and, of course, romantic.
Marji: What traits did your author give your leading man that you don’t appreciate?
Lily: Well, if you mean Tate Bronson, the man’s prickly, terse, closed emotionally, angry at God, impatient… He can be downright rude!
Marji: I suppose everyone has their flaws, though that is quite a list. What personality flaws in yourself have surprised you?
Lily: I never used to have a temper or to volunteer quite so much personal information so easily.
Marji: Speaking of romance, what are your thoughts or expectations of marriage?
Lily: I’ve always thought that marriage should be a partnership, but even more than that, a balancing act, where two individuals sort of balance and complement each other. I guess that means I’m not looking for a shy man like myself. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’ll ever marry. Maybe it’s just not in God’s plan for me.
Marji: Hmm. I hope you’re wrong about that. How difficult is your author to work for?
Lily: Oh, she’s not too bad. She keeps putting me in these uncomfortable situations, though. Do you know, she expected me to buy a vehicle from this 17-year-old boy who had already lost nearly everything. Now, how could I do that?
Marji: Authors do have a tendency to expect a lot from their characters, but Arlene James seems really interesting:
ARLENE JAMES and is the author of more than 80 novels. Publishing steadily for more than three decades, she has concentrated on Inspirational Romance for the past fifteen years. She loves providing her readers with uplifting stories of true love as God has ordained it. She and her husband, artist and retired engineer, James E. Rather, have traveled extensively and, after living in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area for 33 years, now call northwest Arkansas home. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.